Wrongful Termination? Part 2

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In part one, I went over some of the reasons you needed to examine in order to determine if you had been wrongfully terminated, and if you should seek legal actions against your former employer. In this part, we will look at some of the aspects from an employer’s side of things, particularly the ideas of “just cause.”


As touched upon in part 1, if there is a just cause for termination, then the employer is not required to provide any sort of notice before following through with the actual termination process. Just cause can be a variety of things, depending on the position, and does not have to be based on a specific incident, but may be accumulated incidents over time, like a history of absenteeism, misconduct or insubordination on the job, theft, long term bad behavior, etc. Your overall performance for a length of time may provide enough incidents that it gives just cause for termination.


If the cause is based upon issues over a period of time, the employers need to keep in mind that they have the burden of proof on them if the case ever went to court. In most cases like this, the employer will have been expected to have enacted some sort of disciplinary actions along the way, showing evidence of having pointed out the issues before it led up to termination. Things like suspensions, demotions, or other forms of discipline could be easily shown to have occurred during that time before the employee was dismissed, but it may not always be that way. Sometimes it may be more evident in performance reviews or in record of verbal or written warnings that were given and adequate time allowed to note any performance improvement afterwards.


In a nutshell, the employer should seek to show that they have established reasonable and objective standards of performance, that in some way the employee failed to meet or keep those standards, that the employee was informed of this failure, and that adequate warning was given that their job was in jeopardy if they continued failing to meet those standards.


If these steps were failed to be enacted, then the employers ability to prove they had “just cause” will be severely hindered. If the employer does not have just cause, they normally would move to take the action of preparing a severance package to be given. However, while this severance package must meet a statutory minimum compensation package, the minimum may not be acceptable to the employee, and so they may wish to seek legal advice to seek additional benefits. If it goes to court, history has shown that many courts do not find the statutory minimal amount to what they consider “reasonable notice” and that results in the employers having to compensate employees further.


Of course there are always so many additional factors in cases like this, and so if you feel that some of the things mentioned in these articles apply to your case, then simply seeking additional legal advice would be the next step. Once all of the details are brought together, it can be determined from there is a case can be made and if actual legal action should be pursued.


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  • Jeffrey McCormack
    Jeffrey McCormack
    Thanks for the comments everyone - as I stated earlier though, I am not able to provide legal advice, this was just a few tips I researched for the article. If you feel you have a potential case based on some of these tips, then you should probably seek some local legal council. Every company has different reasons for why they terminate, and those have to be reviewed. Like in your case Tina, some companies may have a no felony clause, so regardless of whether it relates, it may just be their policy. I know almost every application I have submitted has that question on it - "have you even been convicted of a felony" - so it must be a common reason among many companies.
  • Tina H
    Tina H
    I am a 2 time felon it has been 7 years for the first and 5 for the second. I am a single mother of 3. I was hired based on my personality and knowledge in the field. I did not disclose my criminal history, but that is not why I was terminated from the job. Three days after hired I was sat down and told that my background check had came in and that I could pick up my check. This was just a standard job of shift lead at a local Peter Piper Pizza. My question is if hired based on knowledge and great work ethic why should my criminal history have any thing to to with my ability to do a great job as their employee, especially when the crimes have nothing in common with the job I would be performing. Do I have a case?  
  • nicholas lamitola
    nicholas lamitola
    I have a disabilty since a aotu accident in 2004 worked town of oyster bay 1 one before accident. they have since my return to work after family had mom that died from aotu accident. since then the town dept comm. and comm. have looked for resons to get me out with out getting thier hands dirty. But as we all read this summer gov. Como had assisted a lady here on long islnd that was let go from her job, because the compant didn't want to deal with her being in the hospital so much. That now we all know that bot stste, and on the federal level it's illegal. I was told I was laid off but never given a pink slip. I told public safty I wolud not leave builging with out a notice. They called coom fetigerald and retired town atty w/suspeded law lic. to get me out then Nassaua police showed up with dept, comm Barry Bree from public safty to escort me out of town hall south. where I worked for 8 years
  • David N
    David N
    Good summary.
  • Susan Farquharson
    Susan Farquharson
    Interesting article.  I was terminated in late June over a very mild Facebook post (no warning given and no other reason given for termination). Other attorneys in the office saw the post and commented that it was not grounds for termination. I know the termination was based solely on the fact that the administrator and one of my three attorneys did not like me personally (only she, the one attorney and I were in the "meeting."  My main attorney was in a seminar that day and did not support me at all.  I know I could have pursued action but was given a pretty decent severance package and chose to just move forward and try to forget those negative associations.
  • Grace W
    Grace W
    Great article.  But I too am interested in the rights you would have in a Right to Work State like Arkansas for "just cause".  Does anyone have any suggestions?
  • Howard S
    Howard S
    Does this article apply to temporary employees?
  • Jeffrey McCormack
    Jeffrey McCormack
    Thanks for taking the time to write everyone, however, I am not able to provide legal advice, this was just a few tips I researched for the article. If you feel you have a potential case based on some of these tips, then you should probably seek some local legal council.
  • Kathleen K
    Kathleen K
    What would the law require if the termination occurred  during a person's probationary period?My work was outstanding during my month of working with infants through five year olds at a learning center.  I gave 150%.  I read all of the documentation.  I was told to card parents if I did not know them.  All of the teachers I worked with and even the Assistant Director said I was doing great.  However, when I was at the "potty," (they baby talk with the children) one day with four two year old, I was taken off guard one day when a two year old ran out of the potty & ran to her Mom.  I did not card Mom due to knowing Mom would have first gone to the classroom where the teacher would have cleared Mom.  The Director was right across the hall within seeing & hearing distance.  I was terminated because of the error which I immediately owned.  This was during my probationary period.  I should have been corrected.  Period.  It is illegal to fire someone without giving them a warning.  If what I did was truly egregious, the Director should have gotten up, superseded what SHE was doing & stepped in as the Director & done her job.  Furthermore, SHE, the Director, had buzzed the Mom in.  She, the Director,was just as responsible as me, letting Mom in.  I owned what I did, I am simply saying I am not the only wrong person.  I apologized immediately and said it would NEVER happen again.  Furthermore, I said the protocol should be documented in WRITING.  I read everything that was WRITTEN.  So, I ask you, What does the law say regarding the probationary period?
  • Kathleen O
    Kathleen O
    What does all of the above matter when you live in the State of Arizona, which is a right-to-work state.
  • Pamela M
    Pamela M
    Are you a licensed attorney in the state of Texas?
  • Jeffrey McCormack
    Jeffrey McCormack
    Thanks for reading and taking the time respond Alba.
  • robin t
    robin t
    This was a great article, and it makes me want to sue my former employer for wrongful termination!
  •  Sandra T
    Sandra T
    I was let go because the office administrator said that the partner I worked for didn't have any confidence in me.  The other three attorneys that I worked for said that they were happy with my work.  After I had been assigned to the partner for 1 month, he said he had no confidence in me.  The office administrator said that I had like a month to gain his confidence.  When I went in every morning and asked him if he needed me to do anything, he always said he had nothing for me.  It was obvious that he didn't want a black secretary.  He wanted the girl outside his office who was a white girl.  He never gave me a chance.
  • Alba G
    Alba G
    This is wonderful and very educational.  Thank you

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